~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Focus and the Joy

My friend, the divine Shanna Germain, picks a word for each year. Something to focus on, to embrace, to work towards, to center around. (Follow the link on her name to read her explanation, which is much better than mine. Go on. I’ll wait.)

So she asked her friends and readers what their words were, and this year, I can’t decide between two. They’re different, but yet they’re both internal.

Joy. Focus.

These words, along with Temperance, the Tarot card I pulled on Samhain (to illuminate the Celtic year ahead), are what I’m meditating on right now. No definitive answers yet. But I know I want to focus on joy, and find joy in focus. I want to recognize and experience joy when I’m in the middle of it—I want to be mindful of it—and I want to rediscover the joy of doing the things I love, the things that are good for me. Writing, eating healthy, running, dancing, laughing, loving, singing, being.

It looks like the beginning of the year will also be about learning, gaining knowledge—which I know will help me with focus.

In February, I’ll be taking a couple of writing workshops in Oregon. In March, I’ll be attending the first-ever California Dreamin’ conference, a joint effort by the Los Angeles, Orange County, and East Valley RWA chapters. In March and April, I’ve got a 6-week online course booked on Pitches and Blurbs, and I may do some other online courses through the Oregon Writers Network later in the year.

Overall, I need to look at my production schedule and make some plans for the beginning of the year, writing- and publishing-wise. I started thinking about it last night, to let it soak into my subconscious. Dean Wesley Smith’s blog posts on the topic are a huge boon for me.

Starting next week, Morgana and I are taking a 6-week online course called Align Your Life! Magic, Purpose, & Living the Way You Really Want, taught by my acquaintance, the splendidly lovely T. Thorn Coyle. I’d only recently heard about it, and shot an email to Morgana, and when I didn’t hear back, I kinda forgot. Then last night around 10 pm she called me to tell me she wanted to do it, but registration was about to close! So I fired off an email and our deposits, and we’re in. Whew!

I feel I’ve lost touch with my spirituality over the past few years, and I need to make it a priority again. Morgana’s expressed similar feelings, although I can’t speak directly for her. I think this will be a good first step.

Meanwhile, Ken and I have been discussing our goals re: health and fitness. We’re hoping to both do the three-week nutritional cleanse that I did a couple of years ago (our chiropractor’s father is a nutritionist). It’s a fantastic jump-start, focused on detoxing certain organs, and a good way to get back to basics. Bad habits have crept in again. After I did the cleanse last time, I felt so much better—to the point that my night vision actually improved.

Beyond all this? We’ve talked about taking a photography course so we can learn how to use our camera to its full capabilities, and I’d like to take piano lessons again. (Ken wants to take guitar lessons, but my suggestion is that he take piano lessons with me to learn how to read music, plus we already have a keyboard.) But nothing’s hard-scheduled past March, except for the 2013 Iron Butt Rally (end of June into the beginning of July) and another OWN workshop for me in July. There will be cross-country trips to visit my sister, of course, and no doubt trips north to see my other sister, and trips south to see Ken’s family. There will be friends. There will be joy. There will be focus.

There will be life, as best as we can do it. I’m looking forward to it.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The slow progress back towards the light

I started this blog post about a month ago, which tells you how difficult it’s been for me to write. But despite how hard it is to look back at the bad, it’s also proving cathartic, because it’s making me celebrate the good and look forward to the…um, gooder. More goodness. Better goodness.

So, here goes:

Roughly a year ago, I…
  • was still recovering from the death of my father in January 2010
  • was continuing to deal with my oldest sister’s severe aneurysm in December 2010 and the resultant cross-country travel (four times in seven months, and counting…)
  • was reeling from Ken’s near-fatal motorcycle accident, major surgery, and recovery (which necessitated my being his primary caregiver for several months)
  • assumed I was just dealing with stress, and didn’t know that my perimenopause had turned into menopause and that my hormones were, quite frankly, FUBAR
  • was so wound up in perfectionism that when I tore a tendon in my left hand and it hurt to do dishes and my acupuncturist suggested I use paper plates and disposable tableware, I almost levitated off the table in horror
  • not to mention that I’d just torn a tendon in my left hand and had been told not to type for four months, meaning I couldn’t do much of anything work-wise
  • continued to do the jobs I’d volunteered for because I didn't want to let anyone down, fully convinced I could do them despite the energy I was putting into taking care of my loved ones (and not putting into taking care of myself)
  • wondered why some people I’d long called friends had seemingly abandoned me
  • was seriously wondering if I’d ever write again, given that I couldn’t find the enthusiasm for even stupid only-I-would-ever-read-it fun stuff—which then made me wonder WTH I was going to do with the rest of my life and, honestly, who I was if I wasn’t a writer, which I’d identified myself as and worked towards since I was 12 years old
There was probably more, but you get the picture.

I’ve been pondering, over the past month or two, how different my life is now. How much better it is. How I didn’t realize how fucking awful it was a year ago, how depressed and anxious and screwed up and lost I was.

The irony is that in public—on my blog, on FB/Twitter, even to anyone except close friends/family—I put on a good face. (As good a face I could, anyway. I know my stress manifested in less-than-positive ways.) I asked for help, and when I didn’t get it, I shrugged and soldiered on, because that’s what one does.

My goal here isn’t to garner sympathy (in fact, responses to that end would probably make me feel bad at this point). It’s more to chronicle the changes for myself, to be able to look back and say “Yes, it was horrible, but I got through it, and if/when things get horrible again, this will remind me that I can and will get through it again.” (Although I’m putting the positive out there that it’s not going to get that horrible again.)

Things are so, so, so much better. My health isn’t perfect, but it feels like a 180 in some areas. December’s month-long cold notwithstanding, I have energy, I have strength. I ran my first full 5K a month ago. I can do double suspension exercises in the TRX bands. I go up and down the stairs without thinking about it (as opposed to when my back was so bad, if I forgot something on one floor, I simply went on without it).

I have my brain back, and I have some of my creativity back, and it’s coming back more and more, and I know that eventually I’ll get my focus back (I see that as something to work on, not wait for, at any rate).

I’m excited about moving my business into the upstairs office, where I’ll have more room to both write and publish, and I’m excited about doing some more fun work on the house in the process (e.g., the downstairs office).

I’ve let go of the so-called friends who had already let go of me, and found great joy in the amazing friends who stood by me through the worst of times. I’ve spent quality time with family, and rejoiced in my sister’s slow but steady successes.

I was reminded, time and again, how music heals me, how it reaches into my soul and helps me find the light. It’s my sacred circle, my way of connecting with the divine.

All of this spirals down into the tattoo I got in the middle of all the darkness: The Good Catches Up. Sometimes it takes a little while, but in the end, it does.

I’m going to keep putting the good out there into the world, and tomorrow I’ll talk about my plans for the beginning of 2013 and beyond.

A magickal New Year’s Eve to you all. Leave the bad behind in 2012, and embrace the good!

Listening to: “New Year’s Eve,” Taylor Mills